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Safety or Travel: Which Is More Important? The Impact of Disaster Events on Tourism

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Safety or Travel: Which Is More Important? The Impact of Disaster Events on Tourism

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Tourism is making an increasingly considerable contribution to the sustainable development of world economy, but its development is susceptible to a series of disaster events. The impact of disaster events on tourists’ travel decisions is receiving ever-growing attention. In this study, disasters are classified into two categories: namely, natural disasters and man-made disasters. Among these disasters, earthquakes and terrorist attacks—as the most representative two types—are taken as research examples. By virtue of a difference-in-difference research method and online review data from TripAdvisor, multiple incidents that have occurred in different countries are systematically and comparatively analyzed for verifying the effects of catastrophic events with varying natures, frequencies, and intensities on tourism. The main findings are as follows: (1) both natural disasters and man-made disasters have a negative effect on the number of tourists and the tourist experience; (2) higher frequency and intensity of terrorist attacks may not correspond to tourism, and terrorist attacks exert a more influential impact on the safety image of tourist destinations; (3) compared with the scale and intensity of earthquakes, the frequency of earthquakes has a greater effect on tourism; (4) compared with terrorist attacks, earthquakes have a greater effect on the number of tourists.
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sustainability
Article
Safety or Travel: Which Is More Important? The
Impact of Disaster Events on Tourism
Haiyan Ma 1,2, Yung-ho Chiu 3,* , Xiaocong Tian 4, Juanjuan Zhang 2,4 and Quan Guo 5
1School of Management, China University of Mining and Technology, Xuzhou 221116, China;
mhy7605@126.com
2College of Tourism, Henan University of Animal Husbandry and Economy, Zhengzhou 450046, China;
zhjuanjuansufe@126.com
3Department of Economics, Soochow University, Taipei 10048, Taiwan
4College of Business, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Shanghai 200433, China;
tian.xiaocong@sufe.edu.cn
5
School of Business, Global Institute of Software Technology, Suzhou 215000, China; gqteacher@cumt.edu.cn
*Correspondence: echiu@scu.edu.tw
Received: 17 March 2020; Accepted: 8 April 2020; Published: 10 April 2020


Abstract:
Tourism is making an increasingly considerable contribution to the sustainable development
of world economy, but its development is susceptible to a series of disaster events. The impact of
disaster events on tourists’ travel decisions is receiving ever-growing attention. In this study, disasters
are classified into two categories: namely, natural disasters and man-made disasters. Among these
disasters, earthquakes and terrorist attacks—as the most representative two types—are taken as
research examples. By virtue of a dierence-in-dierence research method and online review data
from TripAdvisor, multiple incidents that have occurred in dierent countries are systematically
and comparatively analyzed for verifying the eects of catastrophic events with varying natures,
frequencies, and intensities on tourism. The main findings are as follows: (1) both natural disasters
and man-made disasters have a negative eect on the number of tourists and the tourist experience;
(2) higher frequency and intensity of terrorist attacks may not correspond to tourism, and terrorist
attacks exert a more influential impact on the safety image of tourist destinations; (3) compared with
the scale and intensity of earthquakes, the frequency of earthquakes has a greater eect on tourism;
(4) compared with terrorist attacks, earthquakes have a greater eect on the number of tourists.
Keywords: terrorist attacks; natural disasters; number of tourists; tourist experience
1. Introduction
Tourism, which is closely related to the sustainable development of economy, is an important
green approach to targeted poverty alleviation for China. Wu et al. proposed that the path of
realizing targeted poverty alleviation by rural tourism can be optimized through improving four
mechanisms: the mechanism of participation and benefit of the poor, the mechanism of linked operation
of tourism-oriented poverty alleviation, the mechanism of subject coordination of tourism-oriented
poverty alleviation, and the mechanism of target assessment of tourism-oriented poverty alleviation [
1
].
Meanwhile, tourism carries the important mission for people to achieve a better life. As the first of “five
happiness industries”, tourism will play a leading role in meeting people’s needs for a better life [
2
].
As the subject of tourism activities, tourists conduct tourism activities that are highly related to their
happiness essentially for the purpose of pursuing physical and mental pleasure [
3
]. As Aristotle said,
happiness is the sole goal and purpose of human existence. Tourism, an important way for human
beings to gain happiness, has been integrated into more people’s lives and has become a way of life.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038; doi:10.3390/su12073038 www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038 2 of 12
Scholars in dierent fields focus on dierent aspects of tourism in their research. Economists are
concerned about the contribution of tourism to the national economy and destination economy, as
well as the relationship between supply and demand. Sociologists and cultural anthropologists pay
attention to the travel behavior of individuals and groups. The competitiveness of a tourist destination
is “its ability to attract tourists and give them a satisfactory visiting experience, to realize the value
demands of destination stakeholders, and to maintain the sustainable utilization of local relevant
resources” [
4
]. A balance needs to be found between improving local residents’ quality of life and
satisfying tourists’ travel experience. If handled properly, tourism can be a huge driving force for
expanding social goals [
5
]. Therefore, the microscopic research on tourists and the decision-making
of tourists is as important as the macroscopic research on tourism economy. It is essential to explore
favorable factors attracting tourists and unfavorable factors hindering tourists. Through the balance of
the two categories of factors, scientific suggestions can be put forward to promote the healthy and
sustainable development of the local tourism economy. In this study, unfavorable factors that aect the
development of tourism are focused on. Specifically, factors that may prevent tourists from heading to
tourist destinations are sorted, and various dangerous factors that notably impact our daily life are
analyzed. Furthermore, the impact of these factors on the tourism industry, the degree of the impact,
and the causes and mechanisms of the impact are investigated. Finally, suggestions are put forward on
this basis.
Scholars have discussed factors influencing tourist destination selection from dierent perspectives.
Kang and Hsu investigated the dyadic consensus in the process of vacation destination selection in a
family. They believed that family is the most important decision-making and consumption unit, and
the spouse’s decision-making thoughts will aect the choices of tourist destination, transportation,
accommodation, entertainment activities, restaurants, etc. [
6
]. Nanda et al. studied the marketing
strategies of tourism and hotel industry, revealing that core family members play dierent roles in the
purchasing decisions during vacation planning [
7
]. In the research on married couples’ decision-making
about household natural hazard preparedness, Hung found that the couples who make decisions
together account for the largest proportion [
8
]. Kaplan et al. assessed the physical, psychological,
social, financial, performance, and overall perceived risks associated with the purchase of 12 products
and concluded that similar products show similar risk component hierarchies [9].
In summary, it is believed that tourists’ decisions on tourist destination selection are based on
tourism motivation and are influenced by the judgment and balance process of a series of cognitive
functions and self-defense functions. In this process, safety is an important factor.
The study indicates that tourism is susceptible to external environmental factors, such as natural
and man-made disasters [
10
]. Over the past decade, tourism has suered a variety of disasters and crises,
including terrorist attacks, political crises, economic recession, and natural disasters. These disasters
and crises have brought huge challenges to the survival and recovery of the tourism industry [
11
].
Disasters have become one of the key factors that seriously restrict the sustainable development of
world tourism [12].
In terms of natural disasters, the Taiwan earthquake in 1999 caused a 15% decrease in the number
of international tourists from September to December [
13
]. On 26 December, 2004, the Indian Ocean
tsunami killed more than 225,000 people in the region. This tsunami disaster, as the one causing the
largest casualty (including tourists and tourism workers) in the world over the past 200 years [
14
], led
to a significant decline in tourist arrivals to the Maldives (
69.7%) [
15
]. The European airline industry
may have lost up to E2.5 billion (£2.15 billion) under the influence of the volcanic ash cloud generated
by the Iceland volcanic eruption in 2010 [16].
In regard to man-made disasters, the 9
·
11 terrorist attacks that occurred in the United States in 2001
impaired the trust of tourists, and required a long-term recovery period, with arrivals regaining their
losses in around January 2005—a period of almost four years. [
17
]. The Bali bombing in Indonesia that
targeted tourists in 2005 was responsible for about 400 deaths and caused the local tourism industry
to be stalled for a long time [
18
]. The financial crisis in 2008 reduced the number of international
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038 3 of 12
tourists in 2009 by 4% [
16
]. Tourism is an industry whose supply and demand are sensitive to disaster
events [
19
]. The occurrence of disaster events not only physically damages the tangible assets (facilities
and infrastructure) of tourist destinations within a relatively short time frame, but also makes it dicult
to restore the reputation and image of the destination in the long-term. At the same time, given the
sensitivity of the tourism demand for safety, tourists will undoubtedly cancel their travel plans once
they are aware that the trip to a destination may threaten their safety. Consequently, the sales of
products at tourist destinations will decline [20].
Over the last five decades, tourism has been suering from such crises and disasters, and few
tourist destinations can be fully exempt [
21
]. These facts cast a heavy shadow on the development of
the global tourism industry. As a result, many tourists begin to doubt the safety and security of the
tourist attractions and destinations they plan to visit [
22
]. The main contributions of this study can
be summarized as follows: (1) disasters are classified into natural disasters and man-made disasters.
Among the two categories, earthquakes and terrorist attacks—as two of the most representative
types—are taken as research objects to study and evaluate the impact of disasters on the number of
tourists and the tourist experience by adopting the dierence-in-dierence (DID) research method. (2)
Multiple disaster events that have occurred in dierent countries are systematically and comparatively
analyzed for verifying the eects of catastrophic events with varying natures, frequencies, and intensities
on tourism. (3) By virtue of the DID research method and online review data from TripAdvisor, this
study provides novel and comprehensive empirical evidence for the specific impact of disaster events
on the tourism industry and fills a gap in the relevant tourism literature review.
2. Literature Review and Hypotheses
2.1. Literature Review
2.1.1. The Impact of Disasters on Tourism
According to Murphy and Bayley, the word disaster refers to sudden, random, or great
misfortune [
23
]. Carter proposed that a disaster is a natural or man-made, sudden or progressive
event, and its impact on the community is so severe that the aected communities have to take
special measures [
24
]. Briere and Elliott believed that disasters are events that cause fatal damage or
injury, such as a volcanic eruption, fire, earthquake, typhoon, tsunami, flood, or drought [
25
]. Perrow
argues that disasters can also be incurred by intentional and unintentional human behavior, such as
terrorism, technical faults, and industrial failures [
26
]. Susanne and Kennet defined disasters as “a
serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society causing widespread human, material,
economic or environmental losses which exceed the ability of the aected community or society to
cope using its own resources” [
27
]. Many studies have demonstrated that disasters occurring in tourist
destinations severely aect the local tourism industry. For example, Matthew (2019) explored the
impact of the California wildfires occurring between October, 2017 and January, 2018 on the tourism
industry in the United States. The results show that the wildfires immediately reduced 71% of North
Coast wineries in tasting room trac compared to the same period last year, and tasting room sales
dropped by 62% compared to the previous year [
28
]. Shaen (2019) assessed the influence of terrorist
attacks on European tourism through short-term hindsight responses from the airline industry and
passengers. The results showed that after the terrorist attacks, even the sharply dropping air ticket
prices could hardly prevent the significant decline in passenger demands [29].
Combining the above viewpoints and our research purpose, in this study, a disaster is accordingly
defined as a natural or man-made, sudden or progressive event that causes fatal damage or injury.
The dual attributes (natural and social attributes) of a disaster determine its multidimensional,
comprehensive, and far-reaching impact [30].
According to the widely accepted classic view of Gunn [
31
], attractions are indispensable to
tourism [
31
]. The dierent cultures and environments are like a magnet for tourists who want to
escape from their normal lives. However, in addition to the four “s” core attraction elements—i.e.,
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038 4 of 12
sun, sand, sea, and sex—the fifth “s” element, security, may be more important. Nowadays, the
growing sense of insecurity caused by terrorism and natural disasters means that the attractiveness
of a tourist destination is almost determined by its assurance of the tourist’s safety and security [
32
].
Travel behavior, as a kind of consumer behavior, is accompanied by risk. When seeking stimulation
poses a degree of risk that may endanger personal safety and implies unpleasant consequences, the
destinations that are considered risky or unsafe may be rejected [
33
]. In short, attractions are important
for tourism development, but it is not enough to be a necessary condition for the success of a tourist
destination because: “no safety, no tourism” [22].
Fareed et al. suggested that sudden insecurity has a significant impact on tourist demand, as
it is associated with destruction, death, and tragedy [
34
]. Mendiratta argued that the increasing
frequency and severity of natural and man-made disasters have posed challenges to people’s physical
and psychological safety [
35
] because tourists, like everyone else, value tranquility and peace while
enjoying the pleasures and activities oered by the destinations [
19
]. Poku et al. pointed out that some
tourists believe that disasters may occur anytime, anywhere, in any form without any warning, which
causes them to fear seeking leisure [22].
Moreover, if a tourist feels unsafe or threatened at a destination, he or she may have a negative
impression of the destination and no longer repeatedly visit the destination or recommend it to
others. Meanwhile, prospective tourists may decide not to visit the destination because of its negative
reputation [13].
Tourism is special in that its activities may be shrouded by risks that may be harmful to safety
and health [
32
]. These disasters can be considered as major obstacles to tourist destinations, as tourists
often show an obvious preference for a peaceful social environment [36,37].
2.1.2. Natural Disasters and Earthquakes
As a natural power that causes catastrophic events, natural disasters include volcanic eruptions,
tsunamis, floods, landslides, hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, tornadoes, earthquakes, avalanches,
heat waves, droughts, winter storms, and wildfires [
38
]. Natural disasters are inevitable because
they are beyond human control [
39
]. They often result in life loss and economic, physical, and social
damage [40,41].
Tourist destinations are susceptible to various natural disasters [
23
] that will severely damage
the tourism system. Because of the particular and widespread characteristics of the tourism industry,
tourists—for instance, free independent tourists and tourists involved in outdoor activities or those
seeking accommodation on or near water—are particularly vulnerable to threats from many natural
disasters [
27
]. Natural disasters also provoke tourists’ perception of psychological risk. For example,
earthquakes will enhance people’s fear of “nowhere to escape”. These psychological impacts on
tourists will lead to a decline in tourism demand [42].
Among various natural disasters, earthquakes are one of the most severe and unpreventable
catastrophic events [
27
]. They can lead to incalculable environmental damage, building damage, loss
of life, population displacement, and epidemics that threaten human health [
43
]. Taking the 9
·
21
earthquake in Taiwan in 1999 as an example, 2400 people died, 8000 people were injured and 100,000
people became homeless in this earthquake (TBT, 2000). Although a large amount of funds were
invested in infrastructure restoration afterwards, Taiwan’s international tourism did not fully recover
until 2001 [44].
In the past decade, some earthquake disasters have caused huge losses to tourist destinations by
greatly reducing the number of tourists who visit relevant tourist sites and seriously damaging the
tourist attractions and facilities. Resultantly, communities can hardly maintain their livelihoods [
12
].
The most prominent examples include the earthquake in Japan in 2011 and the continual earthquakes
in New Zealand in the period of 2010–2016. On 11 March, 2011, an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the
Richter scale occurred in Japan, which triggered a tsunami and a subsequent nuclear accident, resulting
in huge casualties and property damage. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster in Japanese
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038 5 of 12
history [
45
,
46
]. Due to the unpredictable impact of the nuclear leak caused by the earthquake, potential
tourists believe that they have to take a huge risk of suering from nuclear radiation if they travel to
Japan. Consequently, the number of tourists dropped notably [
15
]. In New Zealand, tourism is also
regarded as an important pillar industry. However, a total of about 20,000 earthquakes (excluding
small earthquakes with magnitudes below 3.5 and a focal depth over 100 km; if included, this number
would reach 250,000) have been detected since 2008. The consecutive earthquakes considerably aect
New Zealand’s tourism infrastructure and the number of tourists [47].
2.1.3. Man-Made Disasters and Terrorist Attacks
Tourism has become one of the industries that is most prone to man-made disasters [
19
,
48
,
49
].
Generally speaking, man-made disasters can be divided into three categories: safety-related disasters,
financial and economic crises, and political crises.
Corbet et al. believed that terrorism engenders fear through violence or threat to the safety of tourist
destinations, resulting in the disruption of tourist flow, infrastructure, and overall operations [
29
]—that
is, terrorism aims to create a circumstance of prevalent fear and insecurity, and, thus, becomes a
significant obstacle to the international tourism industry [50].
In terms of its repercussion, terrorism often prevents tourists from visiting aected destinations [
50
].
According to Fletcher and Morakabati (2008), the terrorist attacks that occurred in Mombasa, Kenya,
in 2003 led to a decrease in the number of local leisure tourists of 7% and a reduction in the number
of overnight tourists of 31%, from 2.766 million to 1.89 million [
32
]. Lanouar and Goaied (2019)
investigated the impacts of terrorist attacks and political violence on the number of tourists arriving
and staying overnight in Tunisia. The results showed that, compared with political violence (the
Jasmine Revolution, 8 months), terrorist attacks exert more serious and more lasting (1 year and 2
months) impacts on tourism activities [
51
]. In viewing the serious impact of terrorist attacks on tourism,
Lepp and Gibson (2003) pointed out that if terrorists want to destroy a country’s economy, they will
attack the countries that regard tourism as one of their major exports [52].
Since the beginning of this century, many developed democracies have experienced multiple
terrorist incidents, including the 9
·
11 terrorist attacks in New York in 2001, the Madrid bombings in
2004, the London terrorist attacks in 2005, and the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Paris, and Berlin in 2016.
All these incidents have markedly perturbed tourism [51].
2.2. Hypothesis
Based on the above studies, a natural or man-made disaster in the tourist destination often causes
the fear and insecurity of tourists. For the sake of their own personal safety, they will avoid places
with higher risks and choose a tourist destination with a peaceful social environment, because safety
may be the most important factor in comparison with the happiness and joy brought by traveling.
Thus, unexpected disasters will seriously aect the development of the tourism industry, impair the
confidence of travelers, and may even cause the local tourism industry to be stalled for a long time.
Despite the increasing global interests in the impact of natural and man-made disasters on tourism,
most researchers only focused on the eect of a single disaster event on a certain country’s tourism
industry during a period of time. For example, Huan et al. (2004) probed into the impact of the 9
·
21
earthquake in Taiwan on local tourism in 1999 [
44
]. Jorge and Carmelo (2008) studied the impact of the
9
·
11 terrorist attacks on the number of tourists traveling to the Mediterranean and Canary Islands [
19
].
Bowen et al. (2014) explored the impact of terrorism on cruise tourism [
53
]. James et al. (2018) analyzed
the continuous change in the number of inbound tourists to the United States after the 9
·
11 terrorist
attacks [
54
]. Dlawar et al. (2019) researched the impact of terrorist attacks on the performance and stock
volatility of tourism enterprises in major tourism countries [
55
]. Nevertheless, few systematic studies
or controlled studies have been conducted on the influence of a particular type of disaster. Therefore,
on the basis of previous studies, earthquakes and terrorist attacks—as the two most representative and
influential types of catastrophic events among natural and man-made disasters—are taken as research
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038 6 of 12
objects in this study. Both study objects are of dierent scales and frequencies in multiple countries.
The two types of disasters are studied systematically and comparatively to thoroughly verify the eect
of catastrophic events on tourism. The following hypotheses are proposed:
Hypothesis 1a.Natural disasters have a negative influence on the number of tourists.
Hypothesis 1b.Natural disasters have a negative influence on the tourist experience.
Hypothesis 1c
.The negative influence of natural disasters on the number of tourists is stronger when the
frequency of natural disasters is higher.
Hypothesis 1d
.The negative influence of natural disasters on the tourist experience is stronger when the
frequency of natural disasters is higher.
Hypothesis 2a.Terrorist attacks have a negative influence on the number of tourists.
Hypothesis 2b.Terrorist attacks have a negative influence on the tourist experience.
Hypothesis 2c
.The negative influence of terrorist attacks on the number of tourists is stronger when the
frequency of terrorist attacks is higher.
Hypothesis 2d
.The negative influence of terrorist attacks on the tourist experience is stronger when the
frequency of terrorist attacks is higher.
3. Method and Data
3.1. Method
In order to test the above hypotheses, earthquakes and terrorist attacks in dierent countries were
used as natural experiments, with adjacent or similar countries where no disaster happened chosen as
a control group for comparative research.
Specifically, the DID analysis was adopted to test the hypotheses. DID, which is a common
practice for natural experiments, can eliminate the influence of unobservable external interference
factors and help solve endogenous problems. The statistical model used to test the hypotheses about
the number of tourists was as follows:
Flowit =β0+β1PostEventt×TreatedGroupi+β2PostEventt+β3TreatedGroupi+β4Xi
+CountryFE +YearFE +MonthFE +εit
where
i
represents dierent attractions and
t
represents a certain month;
PostEventt
equals 1 after the
event and 0 before the event;
TreatedGroupi
is assigned the value of 1 if the attraction belongs to the
experimental group, and 0 otherwise;
Xi
shows whether the attraction pertains to world heritages;
CountryFE,YearFE, and MonthFE represent the fixed eects of country, year, and month, respectively.
The statistical model used to test the hypotheses on tourist experience was as follows:
Experienceit =β0+β1PostEventt×TreatedGroupi+β2PostEventt+β3TreatedGroupi
+β4Xi+CountryFE +YearFE +MonthFE +εit
where
i
represents dierent attractions;
t
represents a certain month;
PostEventt
equals 1 after the
event and 0 before the event;
TreatedGroupi
is assigned the value of 1 if the attraction belongs to the
experimental group, and 0 otherwise;
Xi
shows whether the attraction pertains to world heritages;
CountryFE,YearFE, and MonthFE represent the fixed eects of country, year, and month, respectively.
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038 7 of 12
If
β1
was significant in the two models, then the occurrence of events had a significant impact on
the number of tourists and tourist experience.
3.2. Data
Firstly, in respect to the selection of countries, according to The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness
Report 2019 issued by the WEF(World Economic Forum), countries in the experimental group and the
control group were selected among the 20 countries whose tourism industries are the most competitive
in the world—that is, where tourism occupies an essential position in the national economies of these
countries. Secondly, with respect to the selection of events, the countries that have experienced terrorist
attacks or earthquakes in the past decade were selected as the experimental group with reference to the
Wikipedia Chronology of each country. (To assure the eectiveness of the samples, there should have
been no other disaster event in the selected countries in the three months before and after the window
period.) At the same time, neighboring or similar countries where no disaster had occurred were
selected as the control group (Table 1). Thirdly, in respect to the data resources of the number of tourists
and tourist experience, online reviews on TripAdvisor were taken as research objects in this paper. Five
attractions with the most online reviews in each control group and experimental group countries were
chosen (Table 2). Afterwards, the data from several dimensions, including title, username, comment
content, experience date, comment date, user location, star rating, etc., were obtained by means of the
“web crawler” program. Among them, the number of tourists who commented on the experience of
the month was taken as the number of tourists in that month, while their star rating information was
regarded as their experience result. In this way, abundant real and valid tourist data were acquired.
Table 1. List of countries and events.
Countries in the
Experimental Group
Countries in the
Control Group Occurrence Date Type of Event Casualty
France Italy
2015-01-07 Terrorist attack 12 deaths, 11 injuries
2015-11-13 Terrorist attack 130 deaths, 352–368 injuries
2016-07-14 Terrorist attack 86 deaths, 458 injuries
Germany Spanish 2016-12-19 Terrorist attack 12 deaths, 56 injuries
2018-04-07 Terrorist attack 4 deaths, 20 injuries
Japan Singapore 2011-03-11 Earthquake 15,895 deaths, 2553 disappearances,
6152 injuries
New Zealand Australia
2010-09-04 Earthquake 1 death, 2 injuries
2011-02-22 Earthquake 185 deaths
2014-01-20 Earthquake 2 injuries
2016-11-14 Earthquake 2 deaths
Table 2. Selection of attractions in countries.
Countries in the
Experimental Group Attractions Countries in the
Control Group Attractions
France
Eiel Tower
Italy
Colosseum
Louvre Museum Pantheon
Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris Duomo di Milano
Musee d’Orsay Canal Grande
Arc de Triomphe St. Peter ’s Basilica
Germany Brandenburg Gate Spain Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
The Holocaust Memorial Casa Batllo
Marienplatz Plaza de Espana
Miniatur Wunderland The Alhambra
Kolner Dom Royal Palace of Madrid
Japan Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine Singapore Gardens by the Bay
Kinkakuji Temple Singapore Zoo
Kiyomizu-dera Temple Singapore Flyer
Dotonbori Marina Bay Sands Skypark
Universal Studios Japan Cloud Forest
New Zealand
Museum of New Zealand
Australia
Sydney Opera House
Sky Tower Sydney Harbour
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Sydney Ferries
Hobbiton Movie Set Sydney Harbour Bridge
Christchurch Botanic Gardens Kings Park and Botanic Gardena
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038 8 of 12
4. Results and Conclusions
4.1. Results
It can be seen from Table 3that, on the whole, the terrorist attacks in both Germany and France
had a significant negative eect on the number of tourists, so H2a was supported. However, the
absolute value of the correlation coecient of Germany was greater than that of France, so H2c was
not supported. In the earthquakes, the correlation coecient of New Zealand was notably negative,
but the negative result of Japan was not significant. This may have been because it was a long time
since the event occurred in Japan, and the number of reviews on TripAdvisor and the sample size were
insucient. As a result, H1a was partly supported. The absolute value of the correlation coecient of
New Zealand was larger than that of Japan, so H1c was partly supported.
Table 3. Impact of disaster events on the number of tourists.
(1) (2) (3) (4)
Japan vs.
Singapore
New Zealand vs.
Australia
Germany vs.
Spain France vs. Italy
Post Event ×
Treated Group
0.350
(0.256)
0.448 *
(0.212)
0.312 +
(0.167)
0.213 *
(0.106)
Post Event 1.420 ***
(0.186)
0.423 **
(0.139)
0.097
(0.111)
0.159 *
(0.069)
Treated Group 1.191 ***
(0.190)
1.854 ***
(0.158)
0.549 ***
(0.124)
1.269 ***
(0.075)
World Heritage 0.387 **
(0.140)
0.916 ***
(0.171)
0.347 ***
(0.088)
0.465 ***
(0.053)
Country FE Y Y Y Y
Year FE Y Y Y Y
Month FE Y Y Y Y
Constant 3.205 ***
(0.138)
3.542 ***
(0.155)
8.618 ***
(0.119)
6.668 ***
(0.068)
N 57 201 120 180
R2 0.777 0.869 0.594 0.829
Notes: Standard errors in parentheses. +p<0.10, * p<0.05, ** p<0.01, *** p<0.001.
It can be seen from Table 4that, on the whole, the terrorist attacks in both Germany and France
had a significant negative eect on the tourism experience. Accordingly, H2b was supported. However,
the absolute value of the correlation coecient of Germany was greater than that of France, so H2d
was not supported. In the earthquakes, the correlation coecient of New Zealand was significant and
negative, but that of Japan was not significant, so H1b was partly supported. The absolute value of the
correlation coecient of New Zealand was larger than that of Japan, so H1d was partly supported.
Based on the results described above, it can be concluded that the two types of disasters had a
noteworthy negative impact on the number of tourists and the tourist experience. Specifically, for
either the number of tourists or the tourist experience, the absolute value of the correlation coecient
of the interaction terms in Germany was greater than that in France. It can be seen that compared to
those in Germany, a higher frequency and intensity of terrorist attacks in France did not correspond
to a greater eect on its tourism. This was probably because a terrorist attack would immediately
undermine the safety image of Germany, a country whose domestic, social, political, and economic
environment has been relatively safe and stable for a long time. At the same time, the absolute value of
the correlation coecient of the interaction term in Japan was smaller than that of New Zealand. It can
be concluded that, with regard to earthquakes, the influence of frequency is greater than that of scale
and intensity—that is, if earthquakes occur frequently in a country, their impact on its tourism will be
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038 9 of 12
more considerable. In contrast, even if a large-scale earthquake transiently threatens a country, the
tourism in this country can gradually thrive again as long as no other such events occur.
Table 4. Impact of disaster events on the tourist experience.
(1) (2) (3) (4)
Japan vs.
Singapore
New Zealand vs.
Australia
Germany vs.
Spain France vs. Italy
Post Event ×
Treated Group
0.044
(0.042)
0.127 ***
(0.013)
0.214 ***
(0.003)
0.207 ***
(0.002)
Post Event 0.074 +
(0.044)
0.034 ***
(0.009)
0.303 ***
(0.003)
0.032 ***
(0.002)
Treated Group 0.058
(0.038)
0.338 ***
(0.008)
0.545 ***
(0.002)
1.305 ***
(0.001)
World Heritage 0.024
(0.020)
0.060 ***
(0.003)
0.480 ***
(0.001)
0.484 ***
(0.001)
Country FE Y Y Y Y
Year FE Y Y Y Y
Month FE Y Y Y Y
Constant 4.515 ***
(0.042)
4.632 ***
(0.016)
8.431 ***
(0.002)
6.052 ***
(0.003)
N 9020.000 263,350.000 422,705.000 748,180.000
r2 0.008 0.023 0.699 0.815
Notes: Standard errors in parentheses. +p<0.10, *** p<0.001. The values in black italics represent the
normalization coecient.
In addition, by comparing the consequences of earthquakes and terrorist attacks, it can be seen
that earthquakes had a greater eect on the number of tourists than terrorist attacks: that is, after the
earthquakes, the number of tourists decreased more obviously. This may be because secondary disasters,
such as tsunami, landslides, floods, and plagues, often occur subsequently after the earthquakes,
exerting a continuous influence on tourism. At the same time, earthquakes had a smaller eect on the
tourist experience than terrorist attacks, which meant that tourists visiting the earthquake-stricken
area would have a slightly better perception than those visiting the area suering from terrorist attacks.
This may be because the congestion in popular scenic spots was relieved with the sharp decline in the
number of tourists after the disaster, and the tourist experience will be improved accordingly.
4.2. Conclusions
Various disasters, including natural disasters, terrorist attacks, technical disasters, and infectious
diseases, can aect the survival and normal operation of the tourism industry. It is illustrated in this
study that natural and man-made disasters have a negative impact on both the number of tourists
and the tourist experience. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the prevention of these disasters
to diminish the probability of disaster occurrence. Obviously, in terms of saving people’s lives
and property, pre-disaster management is always superior to, and more eective than, post-disaster
rescue [
41
]. Only by making eective preparations for disaster prevention can the impact of future
disasters on human life, health, and property be reduced [
56
]. Secondly, it is also found in this study
that a higher frequency and intensity of terrorist attacks may not correspond to a greater eect on its
tourism, and terrorist attacks exert a more influential impact on the safety image of tourist destinations.
Therefore, after the disaster, it is suggested to pay more attention to the restoration of the safety image,
try to change tourists’ perception of insecurity, and eliminate the instability of the tourism industry
after the turmoil. Thirdly, it is clarified in this study that the impact of the frequency of earthquakes on
tourism is greater than the eect of its scale and intensity. Therefore, for earthquake-prone areas, the
earthquake resistance level and prevention of building and infrastructure damage should be enhanced,
and relevant safety education for tourists and local residents should be reinforced—e.g., by providing
Sustainability 2020,12, 3038 10 of 12
enough safety tips in multiple languages (or, at least, English). By adopting the above measures, the
damage can be minimized once an earthquake occurs. Finally, it is found that earthquakes have a
greater eect on the number of tourists than terrorist attacks. The same type of disasters occurring in
dierent countries and dierent types of disasters occurring in the same country both have dierent
degrees of impact on tourists. This result further verifies the conclusion of Fishbein’s multi-attribute
attitude model: self-awareness forms emotions that further aect the consumer’s decision-making, and
choice of a tourist destination is related to the long-term accumulated image of the tourist destination
in their mind. In the key link of decision-making, the image will play a role quietly, finally influence
the overall tourist flow of the tourist destination, and then aect the development of the local tourism
economy. Therefore, after an earthquake, we must accelerate the recovery and reconstruction and
restore the safety image of the tourist destination in the international tourism market as soon as possible.
Only in this way can we eectively establish the confidence of tourists in consumption decision-making
and ultimately promote the healthy development of the tourist economy in the tourist destination.
5. Limitations
Firstly, people’s perception of tourism risk and their decision-making process are aected not
only by security factors, but also by their social demographic and economic characteristics, such as age,
gender, education, religion, tourism motivation, personal experience, and income. Secondly, the impact
of disaster events on tourism at a destination depends not only on the nature, scale, and frequency of
the events, but also on the tourism resilience of the destination. Thirdly, this study chooses two similar
or adjacent countries—one as the control group and the other as the experimental group—but the
influences of possible dierences (culture, society, etc.) between countries on tourists’ decision-making
are not considered.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, J.Z. and X.T.; Methodology, X.T. and J.Z.; Software, X.T. and J.Z.; Data
Curation, X.T. and J.Z.; Writing-Original Draft Preparation, H.M., J.Z., and X.T.; Writing-Review and Editing,
H.M., Y.-h.C., and Q.G.; Supervision, H.M., Y.-h.C., and Q.G. All authors have read and agreed to the published
version of the manuscript.
Funding:
This research was supported by “the National Social Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 15BGL121)”,
“Jiangsu’s high-end training program for the specialty leading person in higher vocational colleges (Grant No.
2019GRFX087)“ and “the Qinglan Project of Jiangsu Province”, “the Ministry of Education of Humanities and
Social Science Project of China (Grant No. 18YJA630061)”, and “the Jiangsu Social Science Foundation Project
(Grant No. 18EYB009)”.
Acknowledgments:
We gratefully acknowledge the funding support from “the National Social Science Foundation
of China (Grant No. 15BGL121)”. The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor of the
special volume for their excellent and insightful comments.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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(CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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